the pain of the kkk joke

The func­tion, the very seri­ous func­tion of racism is dis­trac­tion. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explain­ing, over and over again, your rea­son for being. Some­body says you have no lan­guage and you spend twen­ty years prov­ing that you do. Some­body says your head isn’t shaped prop­er­ly so you have sci­en­tists work­ing on the fact that it is. Some­body says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Some­body says you have no king­doms, so you dredge that up. None of this is nec­es­sary. There will always be one more thing.” — Toni Mor­ri­son

some time into my stud­ies at uni­ver­si­ty, as I was walk­ing up the avenue that cut between the green fields of east cam­pus and the wide blue of Lake Michi­gan, head­phones in my ears and day­dream­ing about some­thing or oth­er, I came across a white class­mate who was a rather good friend of mine strid­ing along in a KKK cos­tume.

read the rest here in the paris review …

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